Police in Phnom Penh say they are searching for a gang of thieves who beat a young man to death for his motorbike on the Prampi Makara overpass yesterday morning.
The deadly attack occurred while 21-year-old waiter Soeng Sopheap was driving home with his friend Ly Savuth, 28, after a night of drinking in Tuol Kok district’s Phsar Depot III commune, according to commune police chief Phat Sarann.
As the mildly intoxicated friends crested the Prampi Makara overpass on Soeng Sopheap’s 2015 Honda Dream at about 3 a.m., five men rode up behind them on a pair of motorbikes, Mr. Sarann said.
“They started following them, and they threw rocks and some sticks. Then they kicked them until they fell over into the street,” he said, adding that while Mr. Savuth managed to scramble to safety, Soeng Sopheap was not so lucky.
“The victim’s head was beaten hard until he died on the spot,” he said.
The police chief said that while the assailants had made off with the waiter’s Honda Dream, investigators could not rule out motives other than theft, noting that two small bags of methamphetamine were found near the scene.
“We have initially concluded that it was a murder and robbery because the motorbike is missing. Now we are trying to identify the suspects,” he said.
Mr. Savuth said Honda Dreams were often targeted by thieves because they were ubiquitous and could therefore be offloaded without arousing suspicion.
A spate of deadly motorbike robberies last year seemed to support this reasoning.
In November, a 13-year-old boy was shot dead in Kampot province by two men attempting to steal his brother’s Honda Dream. And in December, a 21-year-old man was shot and killed in Tuol Kok district by a group of four men after the same model.